Welcome to My Thoughts

“Everyone is entitled to my opinion”

Geezer Time

Be yourself; Everyone else is already taken.

— Oscar Wilde.

I retired late last year.

I must say that it is everything that I hoped for. I find it very liberating to have time to do what I want, even if it means not having money.

I decided to write this blog because I find myself being asked for my opinion or my advice now that I am “old” and have lived more than half a century. This will be a little of everything. I have many interests. My thoughts tend to run like a roller coaster so hang on for Mo’s Wild Ride.

Making the Final Tweaks for Retirement

As we got closer to my chosen retirement date, we saw that our changes to expenses had lowered our month to month output. Now we took a look at big items that were more difficult to change. Our house, car etc.

We had a small 401K that was worth about $11,000. Yeah, I know. Most people now a days think that you need a million dollars to retire. That’s because they expect to just stop working and continue as they always did. As I mentioned in my previous posts, we worked to pay off credit cards and made changes to our monthly bills so that our monthly bills were as low as possible.

We still had a car payment though. That was $360 plus a month. If we planned on living just on Social Security, that was a huge chunk. Our solution was to pay off the car with our 401K. Most of you are saying WHAT? But our thoughts were:

  1. that 11,000 wasn’t going to make much of a dent if something big went wrong.
  2. saving $360 a month off our budget was going to make a big difference.

So that is what we did. NO MORE CAR PAYMENTS! It is a beautiful thing. Our car is 4 years old and has almost 100,000 miles. That baby is going to have to last us.

The other thing that we looked at was our house. The last six months that I worked, we did everything that needed done.

  1. Painted and fixed the outside. If/when we sell the house looks good.
  2. Fixed and cleaned up the landscaping. Now that the yard looks good, it takes little time every few days for upkeep.
  3. Over the years we had put on roof, new AC and windows etc. Now we just touched that up.
  4. We also made a one-time payment on mortgage from tax refund to get enough equity in house to lose the mortgage insurance saving us $100 a month.

The way that we stand now, the house is ready to sell if need be, and the car is paid for.

As I mentioned in an earlier post, we have complex health issues. Next time, some of what we figured out.

Organizing your Jewelry Supplies- Divide and Conquer

I have been designing jewelry for over 20 years. I primarily design with beads but have dipped my toes into wire-work and bead-weaving over the years. My current obsession is Polymer Clay.

You know what that means. I have supplies everywhere. My jeweler’s bench and desk have expanded and continue to expand.

One of my frustrations with organizing was how much time I lost trying to find what I was looking for. I have a theory about organizing. It must be simple. It can’t take me more time to put items away than to work with them. I have tried so many different systems over the years. But now I finally have settled into one that is simple and works really well for me. So sit back and enjoy.

I say simple because no matter what supply I am working with, the goal is to keep items separate.

Elizabeth Ward Storage Solutions

After years of trying everything, I have found these containers to work the best. It does not have to be this brand. The key factors are:

The containers close tightly.

The container sizes adapt to beads

The containers can be stored for quick access

I have a small case full of “TicTac” type containers. These are perfect for seed beads, jump rings etc.

I think this was originally for scrapbooking, but I use for wire.

For wire I have finally found my best option. This case comes with 16 containers. I store my wire in it. The wire is kept tight so that it does not kink and it keeps down the tarnish. These container’s can be found at craft stores.

Pegboard for tools

My tools are kept on a pegboard right in front of my work-space for easy access.

I have used this type of storage options for about 2 years and have found them to be the best for finding my supplies and cleaning quickly.

I buy containers at the ‘usual suspects’ or wherever I can find them for a good price.

After years of trial and error I have found that separate containers offer the most efficient way to store your supplies.

Let me know what you think.


Geezer Time – Preparing for Retirement

Last time I wrote about our decision to leave Massachusetts and move to South Carolina after our kids left home. We were lucky that all were able to leave home and we were willing to move.

One of the things that hinders preparing for retirement is that people put stumbling blocks up before they even begin. Money, health, family all are used as reasons. If you really want to retire, start working towards that goal today. It took us about 3 years to reach my goal.

One of our biggest issues was my husband’s health. Soon after moving, he experienced an un-repaired heart attack and issues with arteriosclerosis in legs. He was left unable to work and on full-time disability for the last 14 years. Between his illness and his getting disability, we racked up huge medical bills that caused our debt to mount up instead of going down.

Step 2: Look at your finances and stop the bleeding.

Most people today, believe that there are fixed costs that they must live with. We looked at our costs and made an effort to reduce as many as possible without impacting our lifestyle.

  • We found that we were not enjoying what we watched on cable. We dropped cable and instead use local air antenna, Netflix and Amazon video.
  • We kept our cars after they were paid off and saved hundreds of dollars in car payments, insurance and excise tax.
  • We made a conscious effort to reduce waste in our food budget, freezing more, shopping at multiple markets. Coupons did not work for us since we don’t buy a lot of pre-packaged food.
  • We went with a low-budget cellular service and pay less than $90 a month for 3 phones, and 5 gigs of data, unlimited texting.
  • We shop around for car insurance and internet every time the contracts are up. Doing this we have saved over $1,000 a year.
  • We shop consignment stores for our clothes.
  • We have almost 2 dozen prescriptions. We found that often a prescription service like GoodRX was cheaper than our insurance.

All this was done prior to retirement. With the money that we saved, we were able to start to work on our mountain of debt. More next time……

Geezer Time

I knew that I wanted to retire a while ago. I also knew that it was going to be difficult since my husband and did not have a large 401K.

I listened to others at work with thousands of dollars in their retirement funds talking about how they would need to work forever. Then I would go home and think “Wow, we have almost nothing” “How will I ever be able to do it?”

Well, we did it last year! and I am going to walk you through some of the process that we went through.

First some background: About 14 years ago, my husband and I moved from Massachusetts to South Carolina. Listen, I loved MA, but let’s face it. Unless you make a couple of hundred thousand a year, it is hard to get by there. We both worked in or near Boston but had to buy a house 50 plus miles away just to be able to afford it. We didn’t have money to do much and if we wanted to do something in town, it was a 50 mile drive, ugh. We decided that there had to be more than 12 hour days every week. We didn’t realize it then, but we had made our first step towards retirement.

Step #1- Go live somewhere where the quality of life you are looking for is achievable.

We ended up outside Columbia, SC. A GREAT place to live. Affordable, accessible, lots to do, airports nearby. Right away our life was better. My commute was 80% shorter! I was able to do things after work! We could afford to go places.

It was hard to make a decision to leave family. My husband I have 6 kids between us. But they were grownups with their own families. And over the course of the last 10 years, 3 have moved within half an hour away. So the first question is “will you be able to retire where you are?” If not, decide what is important to you and find a place to settle. Some tips on how to choose, next time.

Introduce Yourself (Example Post)

This is an example post, originally published as part of Blogging University. Enroll in one of our ten programs, and start your blog right.

You’re going to publish a post today. Don’t worry about how your blog looks. Don’t worry if you haven’t given it a name yet, or you’re feeling overwhelmed. Just click the “New Post” button, and tell us why you’re here.

Why do this?

  • Because it gives new readers context. What are you about? Why should they read your blog?
  • Because it will help you focus you own ideas about your blog and what you’d like to do with it.

The post can be short or long, a personal intro to your life or a bloggy mission statement, a manifesto for the future or a simple outline of your the types of things you hope to publish.

To help you get started, here are a few questions:

  • Why are you blogging publicly, rather than keeping a personal journal?
  • What topics do you think you’ll write about?
  • Who would you love to connect with via your blog?
  • If you blog successfully throughout the next year, what would you hope to have accomplished?

You’re not locked into any of this; one of the wonderful things about blogs is how they constantly evolve as we learn, grow, and interact with one another — but it’s good to know where and why you started, and articulating your goals may just give you a few other post ideas.

Can’t think how to get started? Just write the first thing that pops into your head. Anne Lamott, author of a book on writing we love, says that you need to give yourself permission to write a “crappy first draft”. Anne makes a great point — just start writing, and worry about editing it later.

When you’re ready to publish, give your post three to five tags that describe your blog’s focus — writing, photography, fiction, parenting, food, cars, movies, sports, whatever. These tags will help others who care about your topics find you in the Reader. Make sure one of the tags is “zerotohero,” so other new bloggers can find you, too.

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